A series about how everything else matters when it comes to sex
In a sex-phobic culture, sex is often thrown in the same category as other ‘vices’- smoking, drinking and staying out late. We all know the stereotype of a promiscuous woman with a cigarette in her hand, who indulges in alcohol a little too much.
These stereotypes are so common that even sexually active people have internalized them, and assume that having sex goes hand in hand with a poor lifestyle.
People often pontificate about the joy of that post-sex cigarette. Tinder dates usually involve alcohol, hoping that a few drinks will make the hook-up smoother. Our ‘Netflix & Chill’ culture comes from a sedentary, desk bound lifestyle. The transition from a mind-numbing Netflix binge to a sexy night together has been completely normalized as something logical and obvious.
In short, we are disconnected from the kind of care and nourishment that our bodies need to experience pleasure fully and deeply.
I used to believe this myself. All around me, the cool kids who regularly had sex also frequently drank, smoked, got high and had scattered schedules. If I was a ‘deviant’ who had sex, I thought it was equally necessary to indulge in substances and be care-free about my health and lifestyle.
It took me a long time to distinguish between sexual conservatism and an overall caution towards ‘harm.’ Finally I noted the difference, and realized how these things are in fact at odds with each other! Just because I disagreed with regressive social norms about sex, didn’t mean that I have to neglect my body to prove a point!
After doing some research I found that smoking actually brings down one’s libido. In both men and women it affects orgasm and performance. This is because sexual arousal requires healthy and robust blood circulation, and smoking only hinders this by constricting your blood vessels. With men, long term tobacco use can even lead to erectile dysfunction.
Yet for some reason, everyone around me seemed to smoke and have sex with the same reasoning- that they were disrupting social norms & rules. Now if anyone wants to smoke that is their personal choice and I will not judge them for it. But since we are on the topic of having ‘better sex’ it might be worth cutting down on those Malboros!
Once I noticed the link between low libido and poor lifestyle, I was determined to learn more. I learned that alcohol leads to a spike in blood sugar and eventually causes a ‘sugar crash.’ This sugar crash can end in fatigue, tiredness and irritability. Ever noticed how you sleep for hours after drinking and still wake up tired? Sexually, this interferes in orgasms, getting wet and ejaculating. So if you get drunk with a date, you might just be too tired to have good sex by the time you get a room!
And short-term effects aside, the long-term effects of alcohol on sex drives are well documented. It’s nothing good! In fact it could result in long term difficulties with getting aroused, orgasming and lasting long in bed! But I know what you are thinking- sure we know that smoking and drinking are unhealthy, but is it valuable to exercise to have better sex? I hate exercise!
Well sorry to break it to my exercise-antagonistic readers, but yes! Enough research suggests that frequent exercise can boost your sex life significantly! Exercise boosts self-esteem, helps your appetite, regulates your weight, improves stamina and releases endorphins- the ‘feel good hormones,’ all of which can contribute immensely to your sex life!
I’ve also noticed that being in touch with my body through one physical activity (exercise, yoga, dance, meditation etc) also makes me more aware of my body and sensations during other physical activities- wink, wink, yes I mean sex! During exercise I’m keenly aware of how my thighs move lithely, how my arms lunge, how my stomach clenches with strength; and this heady awareness spills over into my sex life, and makes everything more pleasurable! I love feeling in control of my body; of my movements and being able to bring strength and energy into every thrust, buck, shiver and moan.
Sex is a fundamentally embodied activity. It happens in the body and the mind at the same time.
And for any embodied activity to be better, it is necessary that we care for our bodies the best we can! Our modern culture disregards the body, and this only takes us further away from pleasure and joy. The body is complex, let it flourish! Sex only gets better if our lungs, muscles, hearts and brains are nourished well and protected from damage. So yes, get a schedule in place, care for your body, introduce healthy habits- and have better sex!